New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:16 not justified by the works. Some have argued that James contradicts Paul at this point, saying that Abraham and Rahab, for example, were “justified by works” (James 2:21,25). They were not justified by the “works of the law,” however. Abraham lived before God gave the Mosaic law, and Rahab lived in a culture that had not heard of it. As a matter of fact, they were justified by faith in the eyes of God (note James 2:23; Hebrews 11:31) and justified by works in the eyes of men (see James 2:18). There is no contradiction, for genuine saving faith is inevitably demonstrated before men by “works of righteousness” (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10). In any case, Paul makes it clear to the Galatians, and to us, that no one can ever be justified by keeping the law; James himself makes it plain that no one can keep the law fully (James 2:10).
2:16 justified. The word “justified” means “made righteous” or “recognized as righteous.” The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith (Romans 4:5; James 2:23).
2:16 no flesh be justified. Paul used these same words in writing to the Romans (Romans 3:20).